Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
IDEA lecture with Pamela Potter:
The Nazi „Antimodernist“ Aesthetic in Postwar Arts Scholarship
In her 2016 book, Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts, Pamela Potter identifies a wide gap between what research has revealed about cultural attitudes in Nazi Germany and what the general public persistently chooses to believe. This talk will focus specifically on the notion of Nazi antimodernism, identifying how the idea originated in Cold-War writings striving to equate Socialist Realism with a Nazi aesthetic and to contrast these with Western tolerance for artistic experimentation. Scholars went to great lengths to portray a single-minded Nazi campaign to stamp out what they defined as modernism in art and music, and there were only limited attempts to challenge these presumptions or to point to possible similarities between “Nazi arts” and parallels in other contemporary societies, including Western democracies. Instead, prevailing attitudes insisted that expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit in particular were targeted and eliminated by Nazi ideologues. In doing so, however, they had to alter the histories and definitions of these aesthetic trends, first in the visual arts and then in often vague and inconsistent parallels in music.
In 1998 Pamela M. Potter, PhD, Professor of German, University of Wisconsin, caused a sensation with her fundamental book on musicology under National Socialism and concentrates on relating the arts and the writing of cultural history to ideological, political, social, and economic conditions, focusing 20th-century Germany.
The IDEA Lectures bring together internationally renowned voices taking up questions of musical production and reception from a wide variety of perspectives. Musicologists from all disciplines are involved as well as musicians, psychologists, cognitive scientists, sociologists, philosophers and ethnologists.
The talk will be held in English.
External guests are welcome.